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Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei's Regular Press Conference on March 14, 2014

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hong Lei held a press conference on March 14, 2014.

Hong Lei started the press conference with the following announcements:

At the invitation of Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, President Xi Jinping will attend the third Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague, the Netherlands on March 24 and 25.

At the invitation of King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, President François Hollande of the French Republic, President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel of the Federal Republic of Germany, King Philippe of the Kingdom of Belgium, President Xi Jinping will pay state visits to the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium from March 22 to April 1.

At the invitation of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, President Xi Jinping will visit UNESCO headquarters on March 27.

At the invitation of President Herman Van Rompuy of the European Council and President Jose Manuel Barroso of the European Commission, President Xi Jinping will visit EU headquarters from March 31 to April 1.

At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council, Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand will pay a working visit to China from March 18 to 20.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov of the Republic of Kazakhstan will pay an official visit to China from March 18 to 19.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Foreign Minister Sam Kutesa of the Republic of Uganda will visit China from March 17 to 23.

Hong Lei briefed the press on the work done by China over recent days in search of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight.

The incident of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight is still weighing on the minds of the Chinese government and people. Our hearts have never left that part of waters, and our thoughts and prayers are with those Chinese passengers and passengers from other countries.

Premier Li Keqiang said at the press conference yesterday that the Chinese government has activated an all-round emergency response mechanism for search and rescue and asked relevant parties to enhance coordination, find out the cause of the incident and the whereabout of the flight and properly deal with all relevant issues. We will definitely not give up search and rescue as long as there is a glimmer of hope.

For days, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and other departments have gone all out to search the flight and console families of the passengers under coordination and cooperation. They never let up even for a second.

Up till this morning, eight Chinese vessels, two military aircrafts and five shipboard helicopters have searched 51,197 km2 of waters.

Officials of the Foreign Ministry met with the Malaysian Ambassador to China and the Special Envoy of the Malaysian Prime Minister to China, calling on the Malaysian side to continue to increase efforts for search, rescue and investigation, and Malaysia Airlines to release authoritative information in a timely fashion.

Leading officials of the Beijing Municipality, the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Transport, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and other departments have met with families of the Chinese passengers at the hotel many times to listen to their appeals and help address their concerns.

Upon arrival, the joint working group of the Chinese government has devoted itself to work. They are in close communication with the Malaysian side, asking them to update the Chinese side on the latest development and step up search efforts. The working group, the Chinese Embassy in Malaysia also held a meeting with departments concerned of Malaysia for consultation and coordination on the incident. The working group has also listened attentively to opinions and appeals of Chinese passengers' families and handed the list of their requests over to the Malaysian side.

Q: What has the Malaysian side done in response to China's request for a check on the reported "turning-back" of the missing aircraft? Will the Chinese side adjust its search plan or expand the search?

A: Both the Chinese and foreign media have been reporting on the "turning-back" of the Malaysia Airlines flight over the past days. On March 12, China has asked the Malaysian side through diplomatic channels to clarify right away the reports. The Malaysian side provided China with the information through diplomatic channels yesterday, which is identical with what Malaysian Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein told the public at yesterday's press conference. The Malaysian side believes that there might be a plane flying over the Strait of Malacca. The Malaysian side, who has the responsibility to look into all that is possible, has sent aircrafts and vessels to that region for search. Meanwhile, according to Minister Hishammuddin, the Malaysian side will remain focused on the South China Sea for search and rescue.

The Malaysian side has done a lot in search for the missing flight, but the whereabout of the plane is still unclear and families of the passengers as well as the whole country are anxiously awaiting the information. We call on the Malaysian side to assume the responsibility of coordinating international rescue forces, enhance collection, study and assessment of information and intensify coordination among all parties so as to ensure the effectiveness of all search efforts. We have also asked the Malaysian side to keep us informed of what is going on in the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea.

On March 12, the China Marine Search and Rescue Center has told COSCO, the CSCL, SINOTRANS and other companies to ask their merchant ships to steer toward the search region announced by the Malaysian side when sailing across the Strait of Malacca and keep an eye on any suspicious floating objects.

The Indian side has also carried out search operations on the Andaman Sea at the request of the Malaysian side. Our appreciation goes to them.

Q: Has China taken any follow-up measures after releasing satellite pictures of suspicious floating debris?

A: As far as I have learned, the China Marine Search and Rescue Center has directed "Haixun 31" to search relevant waters in coordination with other Chinese rescue forces based on the pictures released by the relevant authorities. Further information will be released in a timely fashion.

Q: The US has submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council about the referendum in Crimea, Ukraine. The Russian government has already said that it will definitely veto the resolution. What is China's position on that?

A: You must be following China's position on the Ukrainian issue. I want to stress that China's position is consistent and clear-cut.

Under the current circumstances, we hope that all parties can keep calm, exercise restraint and work to find a political resolution to the dispute through dialogue and negotiation based on international law and basic norms governing international relations.

Q: Could you clarify which waters China is now searching in? Are you in touch with India or other countries for joint search operations?

A: China has sent eight vessels, two military aircrafts and five shipboard helicopters to search mainly the waters in the South China Sea that the Malaysian side has announced as where the plane was last known to have made contact with the ground control. Since the Malaysian side shifted part of its search and rescue forces to the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman Sea and reports about the possible turning-back of the missing plane came out, the China Marine Search and Rescue Center has told COSCO, the CSCL, SINOTRANS and other companies to ask their merchant ships to steer toward the search region announced by the Malaysian side when sailing across the Strait of Malacca and keep an eye on any suspicious floating objects.

The Chinese Embassy in India got in touch with the Indian side following Malaysia's announcement of having invited India to join the search operation in the Indian Ocean. The Indian side confirmed that it took part in the operation, and we appreciate that.

Q: The Foreign Policy and other renowned US magazines have recently posted on their websites a report issued by the Center for Public Integrity, a non-governmental and nonpartisan investigative news organization of the US. It states that Japan has become the world's fifth largest holder of plutonium and that Japan's Rokkasho Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Facility which is ready to open in October 2014 will be capable of churning out 96 tons of plutonium metal in the next dozen years, an amount greater than all the stocks that remain in the US as a legacy of the Cold War's nuclear arms race, not to mention the great security loophole of the facility. What is China's comment? Is China concerned about that?

A: We have noted the report. Actually, not only the US and western countries, but also a lot of people in Japan have expressed their misgivings and concerns about Japan's enormous stockpile of nuclear materials which far exceeds its normal demand.

According to the Japanese media, deliberation of the draft of Japan's Basic Energy Plan has been put off once and again, due to the differences in Japan on its energy policy and more than that. What if Japan's reactivation of nuclear power generates again large amounts of nuclear materials? Will it worsen the already great imbalance between supply and demand of nuclear materials? There are substantive concerns in Japan which are also shared by the international community.

My colleagues and I have repeatedly raised questions on this issue, asking for an answer from the Japanese government. However, we have not got any answer up till now, not even a word. We are wondering if there is anything hard to disclose.

Evasion will not help solve the problem, rather it will increase the doubts of the international community. We once again urge the Japanese government to face up to both the internal and external concerns in a responsible attitude and give a detailed explanation on the supply-demand imbalance of sensitive nuclear materials in Japan as soon as possible.

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